Friday, 21 December 2012

Spoonflower fabrics

Woohoo! I'd been toying with turning some of my artwork into fabric so I can make truly unique bags, not just by design but with the fabrics too. I joined up with Spoonflower and uploaded some of my work. It's pretty easy to do and I hope it will be worth the expense.. you have to buy a swatch before it can be printed in quantity... 
I picked one of my abstract series, which began as a pastel spiral, and was then worked in a few favourite software programs and filters. Sets seem to work best, especially if I'm quilting, you need a variety of depth and pattern. 
So here is my first swatch

Not bad, I like how they've come out... and the base cotton is not too thin. I'm thinking of using these in a crazy quilt, they're only 8 x 8" squares so not big enough to start making bags... but now I know the design works I can play with the scale of each pattern and get what I need. 
If you have artwork that would translate into a pattern why not take a look at Spoonflower and get your own original prints!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Yule wishes to you all....

As 2012 draws to an end, I am busy remembering all the people that I've met anew, swapped with, laughed with, sighed with and hoped for... it's been a rollercoaster year but with so many new friends and such a wealth of love and inspiration, how can I not be happy and warmed by it all?

So, suitably inspired by the most beautiful glass gift that shipped safely all the way from the States, here is my year finale xmas card... and heartfelt wishes for you all...

Here's hoping we continue to travel together into 2013 and beyond... have a great Holiday!!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas list...

Having bitten the bullet for my eyelet needs I've now made the decision I'm on the hunt for one of these...

and how funny- it's also blue, when so many are pink... what is it with manufacturers that they think we must like pink because we're female? 
But, like the big bite, it's almost impossible to find at a reasonable price. If you live in the UK you can expect to pay the RRP of the American version, but in GBP, meaning if it's $106 Stateside, it will be 106 Pounds here. I know there's shipping and all that, but we really get ripped off here. It's a matter of value... and if it's only worth 106 $ it cannot be worth almost twice that in Pounds, ours are no better quality! An exchange rate goes right out the window- thanks importers!!
Anyways, off the soapbox... if I can find a way of getting one within my meagre budget I'm all for it. Just think of all the possibilities... so many more books to make....
If I can source one economically I'll be blogging about it for sure, and daresay a few more tutorials will be in the making... can't wait!

After countless searching I've given up trying to find a bargain, and I've spent the last of my xmas money  on this and some coils... it was sent yesterday, but I don't know how long it will take to arrive... so it may be after christmas day... can't wait!  Projects abound in the new year!!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Biting the Bullet!

Well, after much debating I've gone and done it!
 In fits and starts over the last year I've been going round in circles trying to decide whether to get a book binder, a crop-a-dile or a big bite... round and round.... you read one review one is wonderful- the best thing since sliced bread, then another review says the opposite! 
So  AAAARRRGHHHHH! What to do????
I've had my 3D book covers sitting around for months waiting to be punched and coiled, I've set so many eyelets by hand on my rucksacks that it hurts- hammers and thumbs don't mix! and I'm always punching holes in my journals... 
With limited funds I've opted for the Big Bite, hoping that it will be up to the job. I shall certainly be putting it to the test- watch this space!!  With heavy card, canvas, fabrics, leather, CD's and plastics regularly used in my projects it's going to be working like a Trojan... I hope!
I really don't like buying tools like this without actually getting a look first, but I've been on the web all afternoon, and as I have found only one Big Bite available I've had to order it. There are no more anywhere, can you believe it?

So, here it is, with promises of so many applications and capability... I can only hope it's not been over hyped. Hopefully it will be here before the weekend, so I'll post on Monday with a rundown of my experience with it. Oh, and wasn't I lucky- I got a blue one... not barbie pink- yuck!

Well, it's now Saturday evening but it's not here... so I guess I'll have to wait till Monday for it to arrive... projects later then! It came on Monday, and I had a quick play... so more to come... soon!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Moleskine Journal Adventure continued...

After my introduction to Moleskine journals, having purchased a letter-sized Cahier for a commission, I decided to use up the second book which has the same designer cover, but in a different colour- orange. So I took that as a starting point for the design for this one. It hasn't been commissioned, this will be a ready-made, buy as-is.
I love blue and orange together, being opposite colours they really bounce off each other creating real impact. I searched my stash of papers to create the title page first- not normally the way I work, usually it's the collage first. I found some great orange and blue papers and flowers...

Working from the title page I chose an abundance of blue, orange and pink fabrics and began to layer up...

Each layer is built of with different stitches and coloured threads, fabric, plastics, wools, angelina, paper, canvas... whatever feels right and looks right. 

Once all the elements are secure and a few contrasting stitched patterns are in place I can add the central ribbons for the spine.

I always make an extra smaller square at the same time, some of this is used for the closure and the bookmark tabs, the rest is kept as reference. Add the closure and ribbons, then add the pocket for the inside front. Once all that is complete I can measure and sew up the bottom and top for a snug fit.

I always add some extra elements, often beads and charms, but I've had this butterfly crying out to be used since I diecut it, and it's a perfect compliment for the cover and copper lettering inside. Add a little crochet flower, the bookmarkers and velcro, line the inside opening with matching poly-cotton, and ta-da, she's all done! All ready for Etsy and Creative Stores...

Perfect and in time for a christmas pressie....

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas Pressie Rucksack

Lol, I'm making good headway with the pre-xmas creativity... Last week I started another rucksack, with a personal theme this time. I have photo canvas that runs though a printer so I chose a few relevant photos, funked them up a little with my favourite software and printed them out as features on the flap.
I used the same process for the bag as in my tutorial in the how-to section, adding pockets, loops etc before joining the base, then bodies together. Every now and again I have a eureka moment and find a new little trick to make it quicker, stronger or easier so I should do an update for the tutorial too.
This is an upcycled bag too! The canvas is actual artist canvas that has been worked on- it was an enormous piece but it cuts up beautifully into little abstract pieces. It sews beautifully too, strong but flexible.

Here's a closeup of  the flap, I love adding and adding the bits, watching it buildup into a little work of art, I never start with a plan, I let the design develop as it will... 

As you can see the owner to be is a horsy girl, with a thing for cats too... she doesn't know this is coming, I'm just sad to know I won't see her face when she opens it...
Just putting the finishing touches to it now...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Moleskine Journal Adventure in Pinks

I can't believe it's Thursday tomorrow already... and I've not got half of the things done that I wanted. I did  however get an order on Etsy for one of my textile collaged books. After a bit of bantering I finally opted for moleskines as a base for further journals and ordered a letter sized cahier to see how they looked. 
I've also got some Volants coming soon, in an A5 size.
Pricing is always difficult- if I added up how long I actually spent working on the books and cover minimum wage, I'd have to charge upwards of £70.00- not going to happen! I might have to up them a little bit though... £30.00 doesn't cover the first days work. Oh the trials of being an artist.

Anyway, here's a peek at the Book of Shadows, created for Karen. 

 I'll be shipping it off to the US tomorrow, I hope it doesn't take too long to get there, and I hope she likes it.

I spent some extra time today making a title page for another journal, in blues and orange, I'll make the cover tomorrow and list it on Etsy as a ready-made, hopefully someone will snap it up for Christmas.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Crazy Quilt debut...

I've been trawling the web again, and came across a site that has given a name to something I have been doing since I've come back to textiles... the collaging and building up of fabrics... in a slightly more regimented format it is widely known and practiced as Crazy Quilting. Wow! I love the way it goes alot further than I have with the hand embroidery- I  usually use my machine. 
I've been suitably inspired to join the 2013 CQJP, who are still taking entrants till the 15th. I may even combine it this year with my 2nd year of bead journalling, who are also calling for entrants for a little while longer.

Here's something I have created for a Yule pressie, a bit of CQ, a bit of fibrework, some beading and some paintwork... how could I not mix it up? It's what I love to do!

It's contained in an embroidery frame, with spun wools, silk waste  and banana silk plaited around the frame with a tail. It's about 8" across. I have added a few more details to it now, but thought I'd show an incomplete version in case one of them peeks!
I might have to make something similar for my mum and dad...

Friday, 30 November 2012

Anyone remember the old party games?

Best be quick- It's the last day to sign up for the December Fabric Postcard swap on Stitchin Fingers, the theme this month is "Toys". I wanted to do something special so I planned to do a chess set that folded into the postcard size... but then realised that the squares would be TINY! 
So I racked my brains a bit and remembered a game we used to play at parties... great fun running around with a blindfold, and to get to stick pins in the wall, my word, such wickedness!
So this is my tiny, portable version of an game- Pin the tail on the donkey.

Here's the outside, there was  little point making it just 1 postcard size, I doubled it so you get a bit more to play with, well, my swap partner will...

And here's the cute little donkey. His tail is secured onto a piece of velcro, which sticks nicely to felt. Hours of fun, eh! Well, maybe not, but it was fun to make and I hope it inspires a few more portable games to be created. I've just heard, my swap partner is in Oz, I know there is still a memory of alot of our old traditions so maybe my partner will be familiar?

Here's a link to download andd print your own donkey... printable_pin_the_tail_on_the_donkey

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Spiritual Beings; Journal spread

We are nearing the end of our first round of Pass and Paint swap on Willowing, I've only got a few more to do. It's been great seeing the different journals, styles and ideas, so many talented artists about!
Here's my spread in Karen's journal, whose theme was "Quotes"... I spent a long time trying to decide what quote to use, but none really grabbed me till today... it has been attributed as a Native American saying.

I can relate to this and decided to get to work on it straight away... something simple and airy seemed appropriate, and I'm so pleased it came together so easily. A few little gems stuck in place really finished it nicely. Hope Karen likes it.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Beautiful Babe Backpack...

It's official now, and sew I begin in earnest to create our Yule gifts for family and friends. I've been racking my brain for ages and still haven't decided on a complete list, so I've begun with one that I knew I had to make... a gorgeous little backpack for  my best friend's soon-to-be-3 daughter. Being a cutie little girl it had to be a cutie backpack so this one is made from a very tactile brushed denim in pink, with fuschia lining and accents/pockets. It's a similar design to the rucksack I've created the tutorial for in the textile how-to section... a change in size, fabric and accessories and ta-da, a unique bag for another unique person!

I do hope she likes it- well, of course she will, it's pink! I've also listed it on Etsy and Creative Stores as a basis for personalised backpacks. Great birthday presents as well as for Crimbo.
I'm also thinking about making bags and rucksacks using my own fabrics, so I've begun an experiment on Spoonflower- if you'd like to see what I mean, why not visit the collection?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Medieval mixed media fun

It's taken a while, but I've finally finished my spread in Beth's journal Bygone Eras, which is part of our 15-15-15 international swap hosted on Milliandes. We're 2/3 through now and it's getting exciting and frustrating at the same time...
I've always been into the nicer side of medieval history, you know- the flowing gowns, knights on horses, dragons and chivalry... so it had to be my theme for a bygone age. 
There's a few personal photos in there, and it took a while to find the right images to go with, but here it is... almost complete. (I've finished it, but there wouldn't be any surprise if I posted it complete, eh Beth!)

This is the 2 page spread together, and I've put each page on my 15-a-15-j-15-m section if you want a closer look.
There's a bit of my chainmaille in there, some embossed copper, lots of stencilled gel medium, acrylics, pastel pencils and inks. Hope Beth likes it...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Stationery Give Away...

While my girly kitty is sadly, possibly, on walkabout, I cannot concentrate on new artwork, so I have been developing a range of stationery sets that will be downloadable on Lulu, and possibly Etsy again.
Do you fancy getting a freebie and helping me out at the same time?
My first published set is Lobelia- a Funky Kalona Creativity Artphoto, which is a photo that I have taken, them subjected to my favourite plug-ins and filters in a couple of art programmes.

Here's the link to the set, just click on it and go through the process- it is FREE so you won't have to fork out for a test run.

Once you have downloaded, can you please open it up, and print one of each, then let me know how it has printed- that's the important bit for me! I need to know if I need to change any settings so that it prints well over a wide range of printers. It will only be available free  for 50 downloads.
You can use the set as often as you like- even forward it on, but please link or give credit back to this site, the download has no restrictions, but it is still my copyright on the images.

I shall be adding more shortly, I'm just tweaking the layouts. I also used to have card sets on Etsy, and I shall be reinstating those shortly too... I have some great christmassy ones I'll get on first.

Enjoy the set, and don't forget to let me know how they go.... xxx

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

How many reindeer were there?

Even with my memory being great when I was younger I still cannot recall the reindeer names... I always miss one- or more! Just how many were there really?
Well, I have completed 6 so far... seems like a normal number for a set. How many sets I get made will depend on how quickly I get my other gifts completed.

Here is the fabric version, I have put a tutorial for them in my textile tutorial page. Why not have a go yourself? They don't take too long, but are well worth the effort. I shall be making a few more sets, and probably use a couple of different shapes too... well, it is Yule.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Yule decorations already??

Well, sad to say, Yes! In all the shops already....I am one of these people who, although enjoying the notion of celebration, is totally fed up with the increasing over production/saturation and ongoing ruthlessness of retail xmas. The exploitation of staff at xmas, and the bullying of customers to buy more, for ever longer periods of time really makes me mad. Yes, you guessed it- I worked for a big retail store, one of the many who care only about year on profits... but enough of that... xmas should be about friendship, love, sharing and remembering. So on with the sharing....

So, Yule decorations already? Sadly, if you're actually making them then they need to be finished in good time, so I have started super early this year, and as Palma has started the 2012 Wichtel Swap already I've begun my countdown for crafting.
The swap calls for a hanging decoration and this years theme is "Reindeer". I had a good mooch online to see what was about, but wanted to do something original. I know a cutout isn't particularly original in itself, but I hoped that collaging the paper might go some way to help. 
So I spent yesterday gluing, pressing, cutting and sewing... not so difficult, but sometimes it's simple ideas that work out best... see what you think.

The sewing was pretty hard on the fingers so I actually resorted to digging out my rarely used thimble- unheard of! 
I really like how they've turned out so I'm going to spend tomorrow joining fabrics to make quilted versions... I'll let you know how they go...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Teeny Tiny Twinchie Books

My latest book project has come about courtesy of Sonja's swap over on Milliandes. She loves recycling so that is the theme for this book.
I wanted to try something new so I spent some time going through my books and opted for a Jacob's ladder style with 3 sections. It looks straight forward, but my is it fiddly! 
For my recycle theme I chose "natural and man-made", I use alot of both types of materials so have lots of both stashed away. I keep a jar by my sewing machine that I put my cut threads in and thought this was the perfect time to use a few. Liquitex make a very versatile, and fun, medium especially for pouring. It dries clear and flexible and is perfect for so many projects (I also use it for all my collage, gluing and waterproofing) I laid out several layers of threads and poured the medium over until the piece was thick enough and fully soaked. Then left it to dry overnight. It will peel very nicely off glass and smooth plastic!
While it was drying I gathered some other suitable bits and bobs, and one material I was determined to use was a lovely piece of recycled plastic from my friend Carmina. It is fused plastic bags.. and so versatile.

Here's how one side turned out... the threads hardened beautifully, and although it is flexible the threads and small size render it quite robust. The fused plastics were folded and reheated to double the thickness, but I still needed 2 layers to make the page. I added some elements symbolic of nature and technology to balance the theme. 

Add a little handmade paper and a band from leftover bits and there you have it, a complete recycled booklet. 
I doubt I'll attempt a tutorial for the book, it's quite a fiddly exercise, and with more pages it would be even harder to portray... so I'll leave you to have a look online, or try a copy Alisa Golden's Handmade Books which is what I followed. I might take a deep breath and try a longer one! Just not today...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Creating a Book of Leaves

Last month Ruth began a prompt in our Hinges group on Milliande's to create a book of Leaves using a coptic binding technique. It's a very simple and effective technique and we've added some great little books into the discussion.
Here's mine so far- it's not filled up yet, but not too far to go. I've used a few techniques and am having fun...

The cover is a 3mm layer of plaster on MDF. I've scratched into the plaster and washed it with acrylics, added a few pics, then waxed over the whole thing. I drilled the holes before painting.

This is the endpage so far. I used several different papers to give me some variation in work... Leaves is an ink doodle highlighted with pencils.

The text is by an unknown author, but it resonated with me so I've used it over stamped texts and swirls. The leaf is a cutout with 2 pages stuck together and a bit of colour added.

This double-spread is an ink drawing, highlighted with coloured pencils.

Another unknown author, but given the time of year I thought it highly appropriate, and fun! Written in ink and highlighted with coloured pencils. The image is a tracing of a brassy leaf charm I have.

As I was working on the book an ATC arrived from Barbara in Canada, so I had to find a quick use for the funky tape she'd used... sometimes simple is just best! The brassy leaf used previously highlighted on a bronzy textured paper.

A printed paper is used as a background for an embossed and painted pattern on foil. I love macro so had to create a cellular pic of a leaf using copics and pencils.

Try as I might I cannot improve with my calligraphy. I love using it, but hate my writing... this is a well used quote by Camos, but I like it so have added to the long list of users.... Inked text over stamped texts and florals. Embellished with a paper flower rather than use a word, trying to add a new element.

More doodling... I love hearts and they can very easily be adapted into leaves. Coloured with copics.

There are a few more that I've not taken a pic of yet... collage and acetate windows... and a few more to fill up... so I'll update when I've done some more. 
Maybe you'll take a look at the prompt and have a go? If you want a similarly easy book to make take  a look at my tutorial here. Have fun and let me know how you get on!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Zodiac quilt is coming along nicely...

It's only 3 months to go and we will have completed our 12 blocks on the 2012 Bead Journal Project. WOW! It's gone so fast... I've now actually finished beading my blocks, but I still have to embellish them with the appropriate crystals and coloured beads.
Each zodiac has so many associations and I thought I'd make a flat reference guide that would look great on the wall, and be totally useful too.
I've started working round a few of them- I've done 6 now... but I've got 3 months now to finish them all and then start embroidering the texts around the piece.
Here's how it's looking now...

Once this panel is done I'll be adding coloured panels around the outside with the seasons and symbols.

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